This was what the New York Yankees had planned for their end-of-season press conference to address the worst campaign in 30 years? This? And people in the organization are still wondering what's wrong?
Owner Hal Steinbrenner took the Zoom podium in what felt like a strategic maneuver to limit the stakes on Tuesday for 30 whole minutes and fielded questions from a handful of reporters through a computer screen. Daunting stuff.
Now, yes, the Yankees usually do their offseason work in Tampa. Yes, Steinbrenner did have some good things to say, like how a winning record means nothing (and should be a requirement, not an accomplishment) and that the 2023 season was "awful." He acknowledged the organization's made mistakes and that the fans deserve far better.
But what the fans want is a legitimate explanation. They want real answers. They want tangible changes. They want the owner to put some pressure on the general manager, who has been nothing but a detriment when tasked with elevating the Yankees' roster.
This presser was another form of lip service, with Steinbrenner telling everybody what they already knew ... while sprinkling in some other head-turning commentary that further angered Yankees fans.
5 most ridiculous things Hal Steinbrenner said during long awaited Yankees' presser at GM Meetings
Run production was "probably" the Yankees' biggest problem? Probably? DEFINITELY! The Yankees were 24th in MLB with a .701 OPS. They were 29th with a .227 batting average. They struck out 1,464 times, good for 11th-worst in the league. They only stole 100 bases, which ranked 21st. They hit .227 with runners in scoring position, a number that plummeted to .213 with two outs and RISP.
But the problems lie much deeper than that. This isn't necessarily anything new. The recent version of the Yankees have been relatively lifeless for three full years, with the only glimmer of hope being the first half of 2022. Run production has been a problem to varying degrees for a while now. There just needs to be a better answer than this.
OK, now for something more confusing. The audit!
The audit, once upon a time, was supposed to be an audit, where an outside organization came in, evaluated the Yankees' analytical processes, and then delivered a verdict on how effective they were. Then it turned into an outside organization coming in to tell the Yankees how other teams operated their analytics department. Now? It's "really not an audit," per Steinbrenner. It is a yearlong partnership with an analytics firm to help the Yankees see how that analytics firm operates? What is even going on?
Did the audit reveal anything about ... bunting? Because after Steinbrenner said he asked around the organization and spoke with former players to gauge whether or not Aaron Boone was the right manager for the Yankees, he dropped this genius nugget:
Again, three FULL years of swinging out of their shoes with runners on second and third with nobody out. Three FULL years of strikeouts in the worst possible moments. Three FULL years of walks, walks, walks and not enough hits. Boonie thinks bunting is becoming a bigger part of the game? It's always been a part of the game. It's just something the Yankees have refused to incorporate into theirs for no other reason than they were stubborn and forced themselves into a one-dimensional corner, which is how we got here.
And now we've reached the denial portion of the segment:
Everybody who doesn't own the New York Yankees is skeptical of the training/strength and conditioning staff. The Yankees, statistically, have been one of the most injured teams in the sport dating back to 2018, and the new regime that's tried to fix that hasn't succeeded. Is it their fault? We honestly don't know. Part of this is cosmic, without a doubt. But to be comfortable with a group of people who haven't gotten any closer to fixing one of the biggest issues plaguing the Yankees' championship aspirations?
If that's the case, then Brian Cashman has to be blamed for something ... like acquiring far too many injury-prone/oft-injured players. But how about when it comes to signings and trades?
Cashman's of the hook again!
Joel Sherman of the New York Post asked about the various moves that have blown up in the Yankees' faces over the last few years, and listed off the Frankie Montas trade, Joey Gallo trade, Josh Donaldson trade and Carlos Rodón signing. No mention of Jordan Montgomery, though! Probably banned from the list of questions the reporters were allowed to ask.
Steinbrenner rebutted with a number of "good" trades the Yankees have made, specifically the deals that brought in Wandy Peralta, Clay Holmes, Ian Hamilton, Jose Trevino and Jameson Taillon. You know the difference between those two groups of trade acquisitions? The first three were of the blockbuster variety, meant to put the Yankees over the edge and improve their contender status. The group that Steinbrenner mentioned were low-leverage, non-essential moves that just so happened to have worked out. When the Yankees need to swing for the fences and land the right guy, they don't. When they need to pluck an underperformer out of a bad situation to salvage their potential, it works a decent amount of the time, but it doesn't alter the complexion of the roster for better or worse. Sure, a few good bullpen acquisitions help, but they don't help the Yankees improve the 25 other things they're bad at. Jose Trevino being good for 75% of one season can't be characterized as a "good" trade. Peralta's on the way out. Holmes can't field his position and goes in stretches of being unplayable. Do we even really know what we have in Hamilton right now? Tell us more how you don't know anything about trades!
Absurd, absurd comparison. Yes, it's nice to point out the good things for the sake of balance, but these types of trades aren't created equal. And now we'll wait for 5 p.m. to hear absolutely nothing of substance from Cashman. Good day.